The Home of Avid Bookshop's Janet Geddis

Addieville, located in the Boulevard Historic District of Athens, GA, is a group of 13 small, brightly colored houses in a beautiful location just a mile or so away from downtown.
These homes were originally part of a turn-of-the-century mill community built in the early 1900's. What makes this particular group of homes even more interesting though is they were all houses of prostitution in the 1940's and 50's. This is their story from well known Atlanta journalist, Sonya Collins.

"During the time of segregation, Addieville was part of  the “colored” New Town neighborhood and considered entirely separate from the adjacent, all-white Boulevard neighborhood. A white big shot named Clifford Parks, notorious liquor wholesaler and pimp, allegedly ran a brothel out of Addieville with his lover, Bertha, a neighborhood black woman, as the madam.
Oral tradition says the madam lived in the brick house, but city directories suggest she lived across the street.  Nightly through  the 1950s, the little houses were raucous with working girls and their clients, among them judges and cops, their partying fueled by liquor that Shelton says Parks sold on the side.
Real estate agent Michael Littleton, who handled resale of the gentrified cottages in 2003, also heard colorful tales about their past. During Prohibition, he was told, the little orange house “was used to warehouse illegal liquor. Folks would pull their cars up, load up, and be gone.”


Here's Janet standing out in front of her special purple house. I did a post all about Janet and her wonderful bookstore back in May of last year, here's the link.



This is the view from their front deck. If you look closely, you can see a rope swing hanging from the tree next to the railroad tracks.


Our Ms. Geddis makes sure it's still in working order on a beautiful spring day.



The idyllic street view: the field is to the left. I could already smell the honeysuckle!

Cute on a stick!



Janet lives with her long-time boyfriend Jim Wilson. Here is their cozy living room.

What was once the bedroom has now been made into Jim's music room. As you can see, Jim is a musician and can play a million different instrumentsThat's the Ghanaian national flag on the wall. Jim fell in love with Ghana when he went for a visit and goes back as often as he can. His new album is called the TaxiCab Verses - it's a collaborative, international recording project bringing together musicians in Athens, Georgia and Accra, Ghana.
Since 2008, Jim has been traveling to and from Ghana to collaborate with the Ghanaian group Kofi Atentenben & the Warriors on the album project. The result is a whole new kind of music, a melding of more traditional African music with that quintessential Athens rock sound. How cool is that?


There is a lot of fantastic wall decor in the music room; here's the story behind "You Bein' Watched" (pictured below) from Jim.

I was on the road with Madeline and Black Velvet Band in September 2012. We went to get some Po Boys at Crabby Jacks in New Orleans and the walls were lined with New Orleans folk artist, Dr. Bob's, paintings. I had to get one so I got two. Love for Janet and You Bein' Watched for me.

Side note:
The slow cooked duck n gravy Po Boy will wash away a weeks worth of sin; saw it with my
 own two...


And here's the story behind the Monkey Mask, the horns and the "I Don't Care" T-shirt (pictured below):

Horned Helmet
I received this helmet from my friend, Mensah. (He is a musician/drum maker/drum shop owner in Accra, Ghana and is one of the Ghanaian members of The TaxiCab Verses.)

It's a helmet used during ceremonial dances. There would be two dancers wearing the horned helmets and their "dance" would portray two steers fighting for territorial supremacy while other dancers and rumbling percussion supplied the battle scene.
 "I Don't Care" shirt
That WAS a Bo Freeze shirt. Bo Freeze put out an album in 2002 called Whatever You Want. I played drums in Bo's band from 2003 thru 2005. He's got old/new stuff on Sound Cloud https://soundcloud.com/bo-freeze


Monkey Mask

I picked this mask up in the village of Fiema, Ghana while visiting the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary. Here, Colubus and Mona monkeys live freely and are treated with sacred respect. It's the only place in Africa where these monkeys are treated this way, as sacred ancestors... Every November, there is a month long observance and a festival where the villagers and their kids wear these masks and dance in celebration of these monkeys.





Back in the rest of the house we have the sun/TV/reading room.



Janet had picked out the name "Avid" long before opening the store; she had bought the letters but then lost them. Fortunately, she found them again and put them on display as a wonderful reminder of what can be accomplished when you set your mind to it.




Original art is important to Janet and Jim. Here is a beautiful painting by local Athens artist Andy Cherewick. I love the little "I Love You" sticky note that has now become art.



The kitten is Wally, whom they found, believe it or not (you should), inside the walls of the house. "Damn It Janet" pillow is a Rocky Horror Picture Show reference.




Janet, who has always been somewhat of a risk taker (I hope her Mom and Dad aren't reading this), was able to get Judy Collins to sign this album when she and a friend sneaked into the musician's party upstairs at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, right after a concert in 1998. Judy and Roberta Flack had just finished performing and were just hanging out with friends.



Janet's Avid Bookshop, fast becoming one of the "go to" bookstores for authors in the South.



And finally, you really didn't think I could pass up a rope swing, did you?

Comments

Man Martin said…
I'm a big fan of Janet's and visit every time I'm in Athens. Avid is a great store, and I understand at one time, the entire inventory was stored at her house!

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